Iran claims regional 'drone superpower' status with underground base

State media reports existence of secret base 'hundreds of metres deep in the ground'

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Iran's state media has reported the existence of an underground drone base that made the country “a drone superpower in the region”.

Maj Gen Mohammad Bagheri, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, visited the secret base on Saturday, the official Irna news agency said.

Photos accompanying the report showed Maj Gen Baqheri and army commander Maj Gen Abdolrahim Mousavi inspecting drones in a long tunnel.

During his visit, Maj Gen Baqheri was briefed on the army’s latest capabilities in manufacturing drones including combat-ready and long-range vehicles, Irna said.

“By setting up such a secret base designed and constructed hundreds of metres deep in the ground, the Islamic Republic has turned into the drone superpower in the region,” the report said.

Iran's state TV said 100 drones were being kept in the heart of the Zagros Mountains, including the Ababil-5, which it said were fitted with Qaem-9 missiles, an Iranian-made version of air-to-surface US Hellfire.

“No doubt the drones of Islamic Republic of Iran's armed forces are the region's most powerful,” Maj Gen Mousavi said. “Our capability to upgrade drones is unstoppable.”

The state TV correspondent said he was taken blindfolded to the drone base in a 45-minute helicopter flight from Kermanshah in western Iran.

Iran has longed claimed to have underground missile bases across the country and along its coast.

The report of its drone base comes amid heightened tension in the Gulf region following Iran's taking of two Greek-flagged tankers on Friday.

Iran said its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp Navy seized the tankers for “violations in Gulf waters”. The action followed its threat earlier in the day to take “punitive action” following a US confiscation of an Iranian oil tanker in Greek waters.

Iran is said to be supplying drones to its regional proxies including Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, the Houthi rebels in Yemen and paramilitaries in Iraq.

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz last November revealed the existence of Iranian drone bases that he said were being used to launch attacks at sea.

One is near the port of Chabahar in Iran's Sistan and Balochistan province and the other on Qeshm Island, just off the coast of the Iranian mainland, he said.

Mr Gantz had said earlier that Iran also had a drone base in Kashan, north of the city of Isfahan, that was used to train Iranian proxies.

Updated: May 28, 2022, 4:59 PM
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